Ref NoBSUCA/OD/1/4/3
CollectionOliver Double Collection
TitleJenny Lecoat interviewed by Oliver Double
Duration14 min. 42 sec.
Extent1 audio file Broadcast WAVE Format (BWF)
DescriptionOliver Double interviewing Jenny Lecoat for his PhD at the University of Sheffield ('An approach to traditions of British stand-up comedy', 1991), on 21st April 1990.
Jenny Lecoat interviewed by Oliver Double. OD talks about his research (comparing three traditions of stand-up comedy: music hall, working men's club and alternative comedy). [0:25] JL talks about how she started; began doing cabaret in 1982 (had done folk clubs before) when the first cabaret clubs were starting in 1981/82. At the time it was not as popular as now; the listings magazine in London didn't include cabaret, and outside London there were few listings anyway. Organisationally it was very chaotic, everyone was experimenting. Cabaret clubs were mainly in rooms above pubs, an audience of 50 a night was considered good. Audiences were mainly 'PLU's' (people like us), aged 20-40, middle-class, left politically; performers relating to their audience and vice-versa; jokes very different to those told in Working Men's Clubs. [2:10] JL had been on the London circuit ever since. The standard set is still 20 minute but the audiences have changed a lot; it is now much more popular and the audiences are much more varied, possibly as the type of comedy and comedians had been on television (references Ben Elton and Julian Clary). Performers are still fairly left politically, but the audience is not as much; now attracts parties, group outings etc. [03:50] JL feels it wasn't true that the comedy at the beginning of cabaret/alternative comedy was actually very radical at the time. Other changes: the level of performance is much better so open spots aren't so common; so performers are actually less likely to experiment now. JL's first performance at the Comedy Store was in October 1982. Others on the bill included David Rappaport and Andrew Bailey, and their act was quite experimental. Now acts are more formal, less experimental; it is important now to get the laughs. Much more of an industry now, audiences expect to be entertained. Better quality acts but less variety. [5:50] Still far fewer women comedians than men. OD - the very first generation of alternative comedians (Alexei Sayle) had no big feminist comedian, the radicalism was socialist rather than feminist (although some male performers did do feminist material. [06:27] JL considered to be the first feminist comic but has tried to drop that label since (although probably sold herself on that label at the time). Out of the Comic Strip brigade only really Pauline Melville and French and Saunder, JL, Helen Lederer and Jenny Eclair. Now there are more women but proportionally still the same amount. [7:28] OD asks about change of image. JL has grown up more than changed her image purposefully. In 1981 JL had just come out of a radical theatre company, it was a very different political climate, lots of feminist politics etc. JL's performances were a natural developement of what was happening socially, and she played to the type of gigs, and type of audience, who was going to those cabaret clubs. [8:40] dressing in a masculine way as that is what comedians wore. A lot of the aggression was just fear; then went through glamorous phase. [09:07] OD - is there pressure on women comedians coming from within the alternative cicruit? JL thinks it was easier to be a female comic when she started; audiences wanted to hear women on stage; bookers wanted to book women; audiences were kind, got a lot of chances to develop. Now it can be positively a disadvantage at some venues to be female; JL could not work in the WMC; JL feels there is an element of that type of audience now creeping in to alternative comedy; there are increased sensibilities now; people would be offended by things now that they wouldn't have been. [10:42] pressue of those venues (such as Jongleurs) is harder because of the audiences (stag parties etc); audience won't have any loyalty to comics. [11:30] not so much fuss made about female comedians, now just comedians; still generally only one female comic on the bill. [12:18] JL doing television adverts; way of paying mortgage. OD - commercials big source of inspiration at one time (now a cliche to make such jokes). [13:15] JL's thoughts on adverts; happy to do it as long as not compromising her views (for example didn't do an advert for a water board as it being privatised at the time). [14:20] Brief discussion about JL doing new material
[interview ends 14:43]
NotesLPCM wave 24 bit 48kHz. Digitised using Denon Cassette Deck DN-790R, Roland Edirol UA-55, and Adobe Audition CC 2014. 2015-06-25.
This interview was originally recorded on sound cassette BSUCA/OD/1/4 Side B; a digital copy has been made for access purposes.
CategoryAudio recordings
Access conditionsAvailable for consultation at the University of Kent's Special Collections & Archives reading room, Templeman Library, University of Kent, Canterbury, CT2 7NU. Access is available via digital listening copies. The University of Kent acknowledges the intellectual property rights of those named as contributors in this recording and the rights of those not identified.
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